Nakusp Secondary School SD#10 Arrow Lakes

I. General Information

School Name: Nakusp Secondary School

School District: SD#10 Arrow Lakes

Inquiry Team Members: Jared Strand:, Peter Gajda:

Inquiry Team Contact Name/Email: Jared Strand/

II. Inquiry Project Information

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels Addressed Through Inquiry: Secondary (8-12)

Curricular Areas Addressed:

  • Physical & Health Education

Focus Addressed:

  • Core competencies (for example, critical thinking, communication, problem solving)
  • Experiential learning

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? Engaging students who have traditionally not participated in school activities, through rock climbing and developing core competency awareness through activity.

III. Spirals of Inquiry Details

Scanning: We noticed that a number of the students using the new climbing wall outside of school hours (as part of the extracurricular climbing club), were students who had not engaged with school sports or extracurricular activities in the past. Students were focused and engaged with learning how to climb and improving their technique, as well as using language similar to that in the core competencies around personal awareness. They were also making connections with staff members and students outside their friend group. We asked why this particular activity was appealing to them and what was drawing them to it, as well as what core competencies they were using when climbing.

Focus: I chose this area because it is a new activity in our school. It presented a way in which to draw students into the school community who may not otherwise have as many positive connections with adults or be willing to engage in overt self-reflection in other areas. I am also passionate about using physical activity and the outdoors as a means to self-discovery and awareness, so I felt this question fit into an area I am knowledgeable about and that I think can be very valuable for personal growth.

Hunch: Our school has a strong focus on building connections between students and staff, so this was a natural path to take within that focus. Staff have different ways of building connections to students, so this was a way for me to further explore that school-wide focus.

New Professional Learning: I used leadership and self-awareness resources from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the US, about building positive personal and social identity through outdoor activity. They provided ways to make explicit the implicit self-growth that comes through outdoor activity, and helped me incorporate that aspect into my time climbing with the students.

Taking Action: I began by trying to draw out why this group of students had chosen to climb and what appealed to them about it, focusing on informal conversations like problem-solving, self-reflection and about how to find success by applying different strategies. Initially, it was directly focused on climbing to make it directly relevant to them at that moment; however, it gradually became more generalized in terms of how to apply strategies to life (i.e. after failure, what can you do to improve and succeed next time?).

Checking: The results were highly individualized to the students. For some, they found an increased connection with adults in the building, as well as finding success in climbing through self-reflection and applying the strategies we talked about. For others, external factors in their lives became more pressing and the connection and core competency awareness did not materialize.

Reflections/Advice: Where I would like to go next with this inquiry is to:
1) Apply it more generally to a larger group of students both in climbing classes and in Outdoor Education.
2) Make the teaching of the core competencies that apply to this area more explicit and direct. Rather than relying on informal discussion about it at relevant moments, I would like to structure lessons around direct instruction in things like how to deal with both success and failure, as well as teach direct process for improving self-reflection skills.

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